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Analysis says voucher expansion could cost $800 millionSubmitted: 05/28/2015
MADISON - A new analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says a Republican-approved expansion of the private-school voucher program could cost up to $800 million over the next decade.

The estimate was prepared at the request of Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca who released it publicly on Thursday.

 The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee last week voted to lift a 1,000-student enrollment cap on the statewide voucher program. Initially, vouchers would be available to only 1 percent of the district's total enrollment, and after 10 years there would be no cap.

 Barca calls the $800 million cost estimate ``eye popping'' and says it could spell the beginning of the end of public education.

 Jim Bender, president of pro-voucher group School Choice Wisconsin, discounts the estimate calling it ``just a guess.''

Story By: Associated Press

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 LOCAL NEWS

RHINELANDER - Hundreds of unique cars will line the streets of downtown Rhinelander soon for the Second Saturday in June car show.

The show's organizers say the event has grown every year. This year, they've added more trophy classes, allowing contestants to compete in more unique categories.

Organizers expect a lot of people to come and look at the cars.

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MINOCQUA - Northwoods Wildlife Center will see a lot of orphaned wildlife this spring. This is the birthing season.

The center could use your help preparing for the babies.

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WAUSAU - The future was the focus of a public forum at the UW-Extension building in Wausau on Wednesday night.

Community members gathered with workers to discuss what the group needs to do to evolve and cater to the next generation of Wisconsinites. They also needed to figure out how the group would move forward with possible budget cuts looming. Less funding for UW-Extension might end up hurting rural areas the most here in Wisconsin.

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RHINELANDER - Students at Rhinelander High School hoped they would be driving home in a new car Wednesday afternoon. The prize was part of the school's year-end celebration. The car was the top prize connected to the school's Positive Behavior Initiatives and Supports initiative.

This is the third year that the school district has been involved with the initiative. Throughout the year students who display good behaviors such as being on time and assisting others in the classroom can receive special green cards.

These cards are collected and are put into drawings where students can win prizes such as free pizzas from Dominos. The drawings are a weekly event but the green cards are also held over the year for an end of the year grand prize drawing.

Brittany Haakenson, an art teacher at Rhinelander High School, has been very involved with the initiative and the planning for Wednesday's assembly. She was excited for the work the initiative has been able to accomplish and for the grand prize; a new car. "It's totally random and whoever gets that special key, there is going to be six keys that won't open the car, but there will be that one winner," said Haakenson.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

MADISON - Researchers hope to improve panfish populations by limiting the harvest.

Now, the project has a green light on close to 100 lakes.

The state natural resources board approved going ahead with changes in bag limits yesterday.

Public input from spring fish and game hearings showed support for the changes.

New panfish limits will go into effect next year for the lakes in the study.

Many of those lakes are in Northern Wisconsin.

The rules will stay in place for ten-years, unless the natural resources board takes further action.

The goal is to increase the size of panfish on lakes that have high growth potential.

It's believed over harvesting may prevent panfish from getting bigger.

The board also acted to simplify trout rules.

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MERRILL - A Rhinelander man went to the hospital after his motorcycle hit a deer near Merrill.

Lincoln County deputies tell us a call came in just before nine Wednesday night.

The caller did not have an exact location, but believed they were on State Highway 107.

A deputy found the crash site on Highway 107 near Sugar Maple Road.

The driver, a 51 year old-man from Rhinelander, suffered injuries that could be life threatening.

He's being treated at a hospital in Wausau.

The 49 year old woman riding on the back of the motorcycle was not hurt.

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SHAWANO - A minivan hit and killed a construction worker in Shawano County Tuesday.

30-year-old Derek Stempa of Shawano had been flagging traffic.

68-year-old Dennis St. John of Hurley was driving the minivan when he struck Stempa.

The Shawano County Highway Department had been doing road work in the area.

That's on Highway 47 near the Menominee Indian Reservation.

The Wisconsin State Patrol is in charge of the investigation.

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MADISON - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says efforts to take up prevailing wage repeal could hinder attempts to reform the program.

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